Precious Metals

     

 

 

Opportunities in the Junior Mining Sector

Maurice Jackson of Proven and Probable has recently interviewed Jayant Bandari, the publisher of Capitalism and Morality and a frequent contributor to this site. The topics discussed include currencies, bitcoin, gold and above all junior gold stocks (i.e., small producers and explorers). Jayant shares some of his best ideas in the segment, including arbitrage opportunities currently offered by pending takeovers – which is an area that generally doesn’t receive much attention, but seems to harbor quite a bit of potential.

 

Jayant Bandari at the at the Sprott Natural Resource Symposium in Vancouver in 2017.

 

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Contradictory Palaver

The recent hullabaloo among President Trump’s top monetary officials about the Administration’s “dollar policy” is just the start of what will likely be the first of many contradictory pronouncements and reversals which will take place in the coming months and years as the world’s reserve currency continues to be compromised.  So far, the Greenback has had its worst start since 1987, the year of a major stock market reset.

 

A modern-day reenactment of the famous “our currency, your problem” play that went over so extremely well in the 1970s… [PT]

 

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Short and Long Term Forecasts

Predicting the likely path of the prices of the metals in the near term is easy. Just look at the fundamentals. We have invested many man-years in developing the theory, model, and software to calculate it. Every week we publish charts and our calculated fundamental prices.

 

A selection of 1 and ½ ounce gold bars – definitely more fondle-friendly than bitcoin, but a bit more cumbersome to send around. [PT]

 

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Fundamental Developments

In this New Year’s holiday shortened week, the price of gold moved up again, another $16 and silver another 29 cents. Or we should rather say the dollar moved down 0.03mg gold and 0.03 grams silver. It will make those who borrow to short the dollar happy…

 

Let’s take a look at the only true picture of the supply and demand fundamentals for the metals. But first, here are the charts of the prices of gold and silver, and the gold-silver ratio.

 

Gold and silver prices in USD terms – click to enlarge.

 

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Cycles and Sentiment

Another recurring pattern consists of the seasonally strong period in gold around the turn of the year, which is bisected by a mid to late December interim low in the gold price. An additional boost can be expected in January and Feburary from the strong seasonal uptrend in silver and platinum group metals as well (to see the seasonal PGM charts, scroll down to our addendum to this recent article by Dimitri Speck).

 

10 tola cast bar made in Switzerland for Asian markets.

 

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Repeating Patterns and Positioning

A noteworthy confluence of patterns in gold and gold stocks is in evidence this year. At the close of trading on December 26, the HUI Index has given a (tentative) buy signal by completing a unique chart pattern, which is why we decided to briefly discuss the situation. As usual, things are not as straightforward and simple as they would ideally be, but there is always an element of uncertainty – one has to accept that as a given. Let us look at a chart illustrating one of said patterns:

 

This chart shows the gold price, the weekly net hedger position in gold futures (the inverse of the net speculative position), with the Fed’s December rate hikes in 2015, 2016 and 2017 highlighted by red vertical lines. Keep in mind that the December 2015 hike was the start of the current rate hike campaign. In the weeks leading up to it, the gold market was in the grip of a bearish hysteria, just as it approached a major lateral support level. Nearly every day Bloomberg, Reuters and other mainstream financial media published articles by “experts” no-one had ever heard of before (or since!), along with reports from analysts working for various well-known investment banks, all of whom stridently insisted that the beginning rate hike cycle was going to be the most bearish thing that could possibly befall the gold market, and that a further collapse in prices was nearly certain to coincide with it. Not surprisingly, the exact opposite has happened. You were definitely not surprised if you were reading this blog at the time – see for instance “Gold and the Federal Funds Rate”. As we pointed out therein: “[The] guessers at SocGen might actually have improved their statistical odds a bit if they had said “now that the Fed is hiking rates, gold prices should rise”. As noted in the chart annotation, in all three years gold prices declined into a December low, seemingly driven by fear of the coming rate hike and then proceeded to rally in a typical “buy the news” scenario. The declines tended to lower net speculative long positions to levels conducive to a renewed advance. So far the gold price lows coinciding with these rate hikes are increasing by approximately $100 per year. We expect this uptrend to accelerate noticeably once the rate hike campaign is unceremoniously thrown overboard. ETA: sometime next year, the precise timing depends on when the asset bubble peaks and reverses – the clock is ticking on that – click to enlarge.

 

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Misbehaving Metals

In past issues of Seasonal Insights I have discussed the very odd behavior of a variety of instruments in the course of the typical week: in issue 17 the topic were intra-week moves in S&P 500 Index, and in issue 18 the no less interesting intra-week pattern in Bitcoin.

In issue 22 I moved on to the “Strange Behavior of Gold Investors from Monday to Thursday”, which was followed by an examination of the associated pattern in silver a week later.

 

The metals back when they were young. Their behavioral issues became evident at an early age already, and the passage of time has done nothing to alleviate them. Our pal palladium is a particularly obnoxious specimen, known for spending his Fridays sneaking up on and murdering unsuspecting and by now nearly extinct bears in cold blood with disconcerting regularity and great verve. [PT]

 

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Questions and Answers

A reader emailed us, to ask a few pointed questions. Paraphrasing, they are:

 

  1. Who cares if dollars are calculated in gold or gold is calculated in dollars? People care only if their purchasing power has grown.
  2. What is the basis good for? Is it just mathematical play for gold theorists? How does knowing the basis help your readers? Is it just a theoretical explanation of what has already happened?
  3. Prove that if someone has known the basis for the last four years, he has benefited.

 

Tell us about your crystal ball, oh great oracle. Is it any good? Can you divine the future for us and make us all rich? Quick? [PT]

 

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Grain of Salt Required

The price of gold fell $7, and that of silver 24 cents. This was a holiday shortened week, due to Thanksgiving on Thursday in the US (and likely thin trading and poor liquidity on Wednesday and Friday). So take the numbers this week, including the basis, with a grain of that once-monetary commodity, salt. We will keep the market action commentary brief.

 

Relatively modern examples of salt money which was widely used in African countries until the early 20th century. The bars were clad in fibers to keep them from breaking up. The specimen at the top and in the bottom left corner were collected in Ethiopia (formerly known as Abyssinia), where they are used as a medium of exchange among nomads living in the Danakil Plains to this day. The salt-filled package made of leaves in the bottom right corner is late 19th century salt money from Angola. [PT]

 

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Peculiar Behavior

In the last issue of Seasonal Insights I have shown that the gold price behaves quite peculiarly in the course of the trading week. On average, prices rise almost exclusively on Friday. It is as though investors in this market were mired in deep sleep for most of the week.

 

The title of this blog post is a play of words on the title of an early Wim Wender movie, The Goalkeeper’s Fear of the Penalty, which in turn is based on a famous novel by Peter Handke (sometimes the title is also translated as “The Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick”) [PT]

 

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Reasons to Buy Gold

The price of gold went up $19, and the price of silver 42 cents. The price action occurred on Monday, Wednesday and Friday though so far, only the first two price jumps reversed. We promise to take a look at the intraday action on Friday.

 

File under “reasons to buy gold”: A famous photograph by Henri Cartier-Bresson of a rather unruly queue in front of a bank in Shanghai in 1949 in the final days of Kuomintang rule. When it dawned on people that the communists couldn’t be stopped, they frantically tried exchange their government-issued paper money for gold. In preparation for its exodus to Taiwan, the Kuomintang regime had forced everyone to exchange their gold, silver and foreign exchange for a new paper currency, the Jingyuanquan in 1948 (“golden yuan”) which it promptly inflated with gay abandon, belying its name. It then tried to combat rising prices with price controls – a strategy that has reliably failed since at least the times of the Roman Empire. It reversed the policy a few months later, as even its main supporters became thoroughly fed up. The people in the picture above were among those who had clearly waited too long to take advantage of this policy reversal. [PT]

 

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A Different Vantage Point

The prices of the metals were up slightly this week. But in between, there was some exciting price action. Monday morning (as reckoned in Arizona), the prices of the metals spiked up, taking silver from under $16.90 to over $17.25. Then, in a series of waves, the price came back down to within pennies of last Friday’s close. The biggest occurred on Friday.

 

Silver ended slightly up on the week after a somewhat bigger rally was rudely interrupted on Friday. These intra-week ups and downs that end up going nowhere have become routine in recent weeks. Remember that industrial demand for silver is strongest in January – that is something short term oriented traders might want to keep in mind, as the effect on prices tends to be very strong on average (the “going nowhere in Q4” trend is also a recurring seasonal phenomenon over the past 45 years). [PT] – click to enlarge.

 

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